After six years in a miserable relationship he knew he had to leave, but how could he risk never seeing his child again?
“DADDY, DON’T LEAVE! DADDY!”
Those screaming, child-like, pained words being wailed to me, as I looked at him with tears in my eyes, will always be carved like a glacier in my mind, left for generations to come. To always make me remember the decisions that I made, decisions that changed my life.
I was 22-years old when I fell in love — L-O-V-E — Lost Overall Vision on Everything. I thought that this was the way life was supposed to be. That I needed to find somebody to adhere to. Unfortunately, that person also felt the same way, and we had a child, my son. Now I’ve not regretted my son, but our relationship was horrible. We didn’t belong together, his mother and I. We were very conflicted people, on both counts. Had our own issues to resolve. Maturity was still something that we were both reaching for. It wasn’t a solid relationship. Yet, I got her pregnant …
I proposed, but we didn’t go through with an engagement. We stayed together for six years. Six long, miserable, years. During those six years, I didn’t cheat on her. I didn’t stray. I saw that the relationship I had with her was not great. Shoot, I can’t even count the number of times we separated during those six years that we were together. I stayed with her for the old-fashioned virtue of “Get a girl pregnant, stay with her, raise a family.” That was a poor decision, because for those six years, I was a prisoner in a gulag of my own making.
The relationship was always argumentative, combative, uncomfortable. There were periods of time, days, weeks, when I wouldn’t speak to anyone in the house. Except my son. It was bad. Very bad. In the last year of our “relationship”things were getting even worse. Longer periods of not talking. More arguments. More disconnects. My son was four-years old.
I was working for a major retailer, and made a connection with someone who I’d known for years, while we were away on a business trip. Within a week of coming back and making that connection, I knew that my life, as well as the life of my son, was never going to be a happy one if I stayed in the position that I was in.
I tried. She tried. We were oil and vinegar. We weren’t meant to be together. The day I made the decision to leave, was the hardest day of my life. At that point in time. I was 26-years old and I told her that I was leaving. That I was no longer going to stay with her. There was a lot of anger. There was a lot of venom that was spewed. She repeatedly told me I’d never see him again. Her mother was there, telling me the same thing. Calling me a worthless piece of shit. I was a horrible human being for leaving my child. My son sat there crying. Saying, “Daddy don’t leave. Daddy, don’t leave.”
I hesitated . Really I did. At the end, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go through with it. Because of my son’s tears, because of my son’s pleading words. But the stereo sound of hatred, spewed towards me because of my decision, helped to push me out the door. I got into my car and I drove off only to pull over, not even a half mile down the road, decimated and in tears. I had just abandoned my son. I had just walked out on my relationship with his mother for the last time. I didn’t know at that point what the future held for me, for him. I cried uncontrollably for a couple of hours, thinking that I had just become a person that I never wanted to be. I had just become somebody who abandoned his child. At least that’s what I thought.
As the days went on, I was able to connect with my ex, and set up a schedule for us to visit. I was able to see him. That actually began a schedule where he came to my house every weekend, Friday through Sunday, for years. Until his teenage years when he started to become his own person. He didn’t turn out badly. When I started to again see the reasons why I did this — for my own well-being, my son’s own growth, and his mother’s betterment, without having somebody be argumentative all the time — I came to grips with who I was and my decision.
With this other woman, I wanted to stay emotionally unattached from anyone else, until I had resolved in my own mind, what this separation, this breakup, this abandonment, meant to me. I left because I saw a glimmer of a new life, a better one for myself and my son. I didn’t want to ruin this new thing with haste. I courted that woman for six months, and asked her to marry me. We were married within the next year and a half. I’ve now been married almost 16 years. I have two beautiful daughters with that woman. I look back at the decision I made, the difficult decision to leave my son, in tears at that point, and I know it was a difficult one to make. To be honest, that “butterfly effect” could have taken a different direction. I could have stepped on it and gone in a different direction, stayed with her, I don’t know where I’d be right now.
I do know where I am today. A happily married man with three wonderful children. Two with my wife, and my 21-year old son, who turned out great, because he had those “households” (plural) that gave him an insight into the person that he could become.
Never separate who you are from who you could be. Remember, they’re one in the same. I denied that for a period of time. I eventually found that who I was was not the person who needed to be in that relationship. My son needed a father who would stand up for him. Leaving him was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced — crushing — but the path that I followed gave him a better life overall.
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